Seen outside of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church here in Andrews, NC. I’m lobbying Pope Francis to let me make this the Christmas presentation in Saint Peter’s Square next year. Of course, you gotta know that I’ll be adding a bull and a donkey.
Category Archives: Christmas
Gold of King’s governance, Myrrh burying Prophet killed for His Truth, Frankincense of Priest’s sacrifice
As mentioned in a previous post, no Masses at the Church for various and sundry reasons. Grrr. However, Mass in the rectory chapel very much makes me feel like the donkey-priest near the manger in the cave, you know, hidden with Christ in God.
Meanwhile, a water main break in town. Meanwhile, the arsonist is back at it with some houses going up in flames over the past weeks, and, yes, just the other day. Proven as arson. Meanwhile, a gunshot after midnight last night, Christmas night, in back of the neighborhood, and then a very loud truck racing away.
Jesus came among us useless and violent lot because God loved the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son among us, His Eternal Word now Incarnate of the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God. We sing with the angels: Glory to God in the Highest!
These pictures were taken hours before Christmas Night Mass of the Lord’s Birth was to be celebrated. But instead, when I should otherwise have been up at church turning up the heat and getting the altar ready it started snowing a dripping wet, heavy blanket freezing more than it was with precipitously precipitating temps rushing down from near 50ﾟabove zero to a predicted 10ﾟabove zero Fahrenheit. So, lots of danger, lots of black ice, crusty ice, crystalline ice, slippery ice… I’m thinking of the elderly of the parish…
I’m from Minnesota, and this bit of snow and freezing rain and ice wouldn’t have stopped me one bit, but the driveway to the church is as steep as a staircase and there’s zero chance anyone could drive or walk up, even on the actual staircase next to the driveway without crashes and broken legs. The “blizzard” of inches!
Even worse, WNC is suffering an “outbreak” of “cases” of China Virus among some super-service oriented people, also among my parishioners, who are everywhere with everyone in WNC all the time, and they are down with Covid. To give an example of what I mean by super-service oriented: one is a FedEx driver. And there are way too many all at once, also amongst parishioners coming here also from surrounding counties and surrounding states. So, to be prudent – for once – we’re locked down. This could drag on into the new year as people go through their imposed or self-imposed quarantines.
I myself was tested way back, also with our Police Force (I went down with the Chief of the Day®). All told, if I remember correctly, three brain-swab tests over time, all negative. No brains I guess. Anyway, the head of the county health invited me to come back the next day to get the antibody test which was being delivered. But then she said she changed her mind and wasn’t going to do it. Her decision was based, she said, on the fact, she said, that the antibody test is not at all accurate. I tried to get tested the other day, but was turned away again, this time in another county. They did the test for others ahead in the line but when it came to me, they said no, as I described what services I was providing up at the jail and getting groceries for the elderly-co-morbidities people, saying I just wanted to be prudent. No. Rejected for testing. That kinda makes me wonder what it’s all about… as it seems they don’t want to take service oriented people out of the community. I tried, right?
But then the storm. The great fear expressed by many. That caught me unexpectedly. So, no Mass as no one, I was told, were going to come. Sigh. Anyway, absolutely Confessions, Last Rites, etc., will go on. No fear with yours truly. But the numbers of cases are a bit freaky round about the town and the local counties. We do our best. Hopefully things will be back to completely normal in a week or two.
Don’t think I haven’t ever been in the habit of reading the Roman Martyrology daily. With that in mind…
Proclamation of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ:
THE TWENTY-FIFTH DAY OF DECEMBER:
- when ages beyond number had run their course from the creation of the world, when God in the beginning created heaven and earth, and formed man in his own likeness;
- when century upon century had passed since the Almighty set His bow in the clouds after the great flood as a sign of covenant and peace;
- in the twenty-first century since Abraham, our Father in Faith, came out of Ur of the Chaldees;
- in the thirteenth century since the people of Israel were led by Moses in the exodus from Egypt;
- around the thousandth year since David was anointed king;
- in the sixty-fifth week of the prophecy of Daniel;
- in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
- in the year seven hundred and fifty-two since the foundation of the city of Rome;
- in the forty-second year in the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus…
… the whole world being at peace…
- Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the Eternal Father, desiring to consecrate the world by His most loving presence, was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
- and when nine months had passed since His conception, was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah,
- and was made man…
THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO THE FLESH.
/// That’s nice Styrofoam. All true. But lies are cloaked in truth, right? Lies can come about through telling part of the truth, looking fulsome, but actually omitting, well, really, pretty much everything, but – Hey! – leaving people with nice feelings! “Jesus is nice and even as maybe perhaps as important as Caesar ’cause He’s mentioned along with Caesar! That’s nice!
I suppose people will think I’m a shallow heretic and a dullard in that I can’t appreciate the intervention of the Word Incarnate in human history at just the right time, and that that’s the point of the Roman Martyrology’s account, and that not everything can always and in every way say everything and therefore I should just cool my jets and appreciate what is presented for what it’s worth and just get over it. After all, there are words like “covenant” and “consecrate” and stuff like that there. And tinkeritis must be avoided at all costs, even regarding some rather ill phrased matters about our salvation, because, you know, we’re used to it. But even the intensely devout are not assisted in their faith by such words as “covenant” and “consecrate” when other words are purposely omitted by self-congratulatory intelligentia who do know more but are too smug to JUST SAY WHAT WE NEED TO HEAR.
I’m an equal opportunity disdainer of tender snowflake dumbing down wherever I find it, whether after or even before Vatican II. And anyway, what dullard made Vatican II the absolute center of human history, replacing the Incarnate Word? Sound’s blasphemous to me, and also ignorant. I mean, most heresies came about before Vatican II and most were presented in – oooo! – Latin!!! Now that I’ve successfully made people angry, let’s make the point (I only mention here a couple of possible tweakings):
- What if we were to have a Roman Martyrology that actually presented the faith?
- What if the history of the proclamation were to mention – even if only in just a few words – the vicious sin of Adam bringing death and hellish mayhem into the world, handing us over to Satan?
- What if we were to speak of, say, the binding of the son of Abraham to the wood of the sacrifice as prefiguring of the Redeemer’s violent death to come?
- What if we were to recount the unworthiness of David to have a future Son that would save us from our unworthiness, saving us from… wait for it… SIN?
- What if we were to speak of the lust for violent power of now secular leaders?
- What if we were to say that – I mean, it pains me to say this as it should be obvious – what if we were to say that it is precisely because THE WHOLE WORLD WAS NOT AT PEACE that the Prince of the Most Profound Peace came to save us from that state of NOT being at peace?
- What if we were to tell the truth for once, that there is sin and the Jesus was born to redeem us, save us from sin, that He was born to die and then rise to bring us to life, to the eternal life we did NOT have?
/// I can just hear it now, you know, all the condemnations:
- We’ve done just fine with being dumbed down, with escaping reality! Stop trying to evangelize us! We’re nice with what we’ve always had! Leave. Us. Alone.
- And then: You’re a heretic for trying to say that what we’ve always had isn’t quite up to what it should be! Stop it!
- And then again: Wait? What? You’re attacking the Martyrology? It’s TRADITIONAL!
Meanwhile, do you know who wasn’t so taken with being clever with dumbed down religious and secular history? The angels knew: it was certain little shepherd boys. And, I have to say, this donkey-priest just loves this:
This ultra-short film is a 1968 Disney animated presentation, which has much more sense, much more faith than the Roman Martyrology. Listen to the narrator. If you didn’t catch it, little Aaron is repentant of his own SIN of hatred (after the horrific non-peaceful violence that took place in his own life), SIN representing the eons of SIN and hatred that sets the backdrop for Jesus to come into this world so as to save us from SIN, He, Jesus, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, yes, that little Babe in the manger. The faith isn’t about our sense – our feelings – of security with the way we’ve always had mere stuff like a book. The faith is about the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God’s Divine Son Jesus saving us from a world which was being up to anything except for peace. Obvious, right? Nope. We have to say it: Jesus is the One; Jesus as the only One saving us from sin.
♬ Pah-rum-pa-pum-pum. ♬
Last minute preparations in the cave. Fresh hay in the manger. Swaddling clothes. Where’s the ox? Get the donkey! Look, a star! Are those angels I hear?
The Day Off started last Saturday with phone calls coming in over other calls all in the middle of The-Priest-Sprint® that runs, so to speak, from about 4:00 AM Saturday morning until Sunday night when I collapse, having gotten up at 2:00 AM on Sunday. Those calls were weighing on me when texts came in with a request that would require bilocation all day on the Day Off. But I ain’t no Padre Pio. Ain’t gonna happen. I had to put that off for another Day Off, having found out that I had already been volunteered by higher-ups to make an intervention that would clock something between 500 and 600 miles on Sassy the Subaru on the Day Off. I haven’t yet recovered from that, with yet more phone calls requiring follow-ups for analogous situations. The Day Off started at 1:45 AM and didn’t stop until something like just before 10:00 PM.
The days are running together with The-Priest-Sprint® continuing more than just the weekend. Time runs together, melts into one time when past is future, future is past, a blur in the midst of the present. All a bit surreal. But then, the good Lord holds all time in His hands as just another creation of His. He was born in time that we might be borne up through, with and in Him into eternity. He was born to die that we might live. He was born upon the wood of the manger that when He would be lifted up on the wood of the cross He might, as He said, draw all to Himself, to heaven, but, on Calvary, right through all of hell broken out. He conquered the violence of Herod at His birth in Bethlehem. He conquered the violence of hell at our birth to life on Calvary. The disparateness of time is brought together in His Heart. And it is with His Heart that we find the Immaculate Heart of His dear Immaculate Virgin Mother. Thank you Jesus. Thank you Mary.
- … when your knees go out more than you do.
- … when you’re growing as long in the ears as you are long in the tooth.
- … [add a comment to add your own ending!]
This is put up in honor to Father Gordon MacRae, who, setting such a good example under impossible circumstances, keeps up his good humor. It’s so important to keep up with good humor under the impossible circumstances we’re all in. The first example is from Father Gordon. I added the second, because donkeys are always with the Holy Family, right from the start in Bethlehem.
The Light of the Nations marches on. Day five of Hanukkah.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is safely back in the shrine on the hill up behind the church after the procession the other day. And inside the church Our Lady of Fatima has taken her place:
Maybe this is what the U.S. Census Bureau meant by priests “keeping” women in their rectories!
Hey! On that note, I really should have told them about Jesus residing with me as well, in the Tabernacle, a mighty small room, but He’s here with me!
Meanwhile, this was texted to me:
Don’t be mad at the priest for sitting down. He might have gotten his leg blown off, or his other arm torn out. But we still want to put in an altar rail to make reception of Holy Communion, of the Light of the World, a bit easier. Jesus is the Light of the World, and Mary is the Arc of the Covenant.
Dear Pope Francis, why not next year put me, your Missionary of Mercy, in charge of the Christmas creche in front of the obelisk? Yes. Do it.
My idea for Christmas 2021? A life-size = relatively tiny crib scene, a small manger, smaller than the width of the obelisk, all respectful of the Word Incarnate, of His dear, humble Immaculate Virgin Mother, of quiet Saint Joseph, a few shepherds, a joyful angel. That’s it. Donate the money for the overly ostentatious tree to, say, small parish churches like mine, you know, for the installation of altar rails, of a real altar. Seriously.
Jesus came to us, to these peripheries, with humility, in the quiet of the night, a Light in the darkness. Tiny. Humble. Good and kind. The Living Truth. That’s not just the symbol, the message. Let’s point all to Jesus, to the manner in which He chose to come among us.
The front window of the tiny rectory is progressing, provoking compliments from pious souls and condemnation from across the spectrum.
Firstly, a word about manure:
- Et a verbis viri peccatoris ne timueritis, quia gloria ejus stercus et vermis est: (1Ma 2:62) Don’t be afraid of the words of sinful men, for their glory is manure and worms.
- There’s plenty of such manure and worms, because that’s what we all turn into: dust to dust and all that. Without God’s grace, we’re nothing but s#|+. Truth!
- When the Jewish Messiah (and therefore ours) was born, it was in a cave loaded up, of course, with the manure of bulls and donkeys and sheep.
- When the Immaculate Conception appeared to snarky Saint Bernadette, it was in the cave, the grotto, of Lourdes, which, even worse, was filled with the manure of pigs. Ever smell that, even from miles away?
- In the picture above, the statues of Mary and Saint Anthony of Padua with baby Jesus are overseeing two flower boxes which, right now, are simply full of manure. Too much. The flowers didn’t take. My bad.
Secondly, about the haters:
- At the furthest edge of the spectrum on the left are those who say that all that which is Jewish has absolutely nothing to do with anything Catholic, so that Jesus is not the Jewish Messiah. That would invalidate Jesus being the Son of David, thus invalidating the presentation in the rectory window. They say this to be politically correct with our Jewish brethren but lock them out in their own minds from the redemption wrought by Jesus.
- At the furthest edge of the spectrum on the right are those who say that all that which is Jewish has absolutely nothing to do with anything Catholic, so that Jesus is not the Jewish Messiah. That would invalidate Jesus being the Son of David, thus invalidating the presentation in the rectory window. They say this to be politically correct with anti-Jewish idiots, happy to lock them out in their own minds from the redemption wrought by Jesus.
Opposites attract. Idiots attract. The two extremes are merely in reaction to each other, having nothing to do with the Living Truth. The two extremes are like the poles of a broken gyroscope wildly flipping spinning out of control, not with the Truth being the mean between the two, but flying apart from the Truth, only concerned about each other. But Crux stat dum volvitur orbis. The Cross remains steadfast while the world hopelessly spins itself into a vertigoed vortex.
Meanwhile, there is le père Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange OP, commenting in his tome on Faith, summarizing the entirety of the works of Saint Thomas Aquinas regarding the Common Doctor’s struggle in understanding the oneness, the univocality of the Judeo-Catholic Religion, with Thomas landing finally on the presentation that all that which is Jewish is all that which is Catholic, though, of course, with the chosen people looking forward to receiving Jesus, the Messiah, the Suffering Servant, and the Catholics being those who have received Jesus, whether being of Jewish lineage or from among the Gentiles.
This refers to the radical univocality of Sacred Tradition, that supernatural faith received by any individual always in the same way with the same content of that supernatural faith. There is a down to earth pedagogy for human brains to be led to assent to that which is supernatural, i.e., through the conscience. Thomas himself comments on this at great length, distinguishing between that which is supernatural faith and that which has been touched by a necessary exercise in theology on our part.
Jesus, the ever proclaimed Son of David, said it best: “Salvation is from the Jews.”
I’ll just keep my window up and let the extremists otherwise ignore Jesus and attack each other, throwing manure at each other.
After all, Crux stat dum volvitur orbis. I’ll stick with the Cross, a tiny depiction of which you can just make out in the center of the Star of David up top of the window.
Hanukkah 2020 will begin the evening of Thursday, December 10 and will end the evening of Friday, December 18. A Menorah of sorts is ready to go in the window, with a small servant candle at the ready. Some might say that Jewish feasts are forbidden to be celebrated. But is God’s honoring the sacred liturgy in the temple not to itself be honored? Sure, Jesus, and we with Him, are the new Temple built of living stones, as the Holy Spirit indicates. Yes. But I think it is just fine to rejoice with God’s rejoicing with the miracle of lights. Yes. Jesus, the Temple Himself, ferociously objected to the abuse of the temple built of mere physical stones.
You don’t have to light a Menorah, but don’t condemn me lighting one up either. You wouldn’t want Jesus to take the whip of cords to your back end, would you? No, really, you wouldn’t. :-)
But I can already hear the spluttering about how I’m a heretic saying that I’m saying that the former covenants are themselves salvific apart from Jesus. No. I didn’t say that. I insist that all former covenants looked forward to the new and eternal covenant in the Blood of the Lamb. There is not one former covenant which was stuck on itself apart from the Messiah to come. Get it? We honor the Jews with great love by inviting them to learn more about Jesus, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, that great Woman of Genesis 3:15 in her battle over against the Serpent, the Dragon of old, Satan. Yes. Let’s help introduce our Jewish friends to Mary’s Son, Jesus, for Salvation is aleady from the Jews.
I’m a bit rough on Saint Paul VI, who gave an address in Nazareth on 5 January 1964 in which he spoke wonderfully about the Holy Family. Perhaps I’m jaded, but I thought it was too sweet about the Holy Family, too nice, too peaceful, too calm, too silent, so contemplative, so prayerful. I’m sure he meant all that in an innocuous manner. But whatever his good and holy intentions, well, I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. I make that really quite clear.
Also, when I get on a rant like this, all worked up, I might make brave in attributing things to those to whom they don’t belong. I don’t know if it was in this particular recorded homily or another the same day in which I attributed the phrase “field hospital” not only to Pope Francis but also perhaps to Saint John Paul II, et al. Sorry about that. Don’t get stuck on that kind of thing. I’m getting older. Forgive me. The point is about holiness embracing chaos for holiness’ sake, you know, like Jesus stretching out His arms to embrace us… on the cross… And this chaos started at His birth and never stopped…
Paul VI did, of course, make plenty of great points about the spiritual life and the correct priorities in life we should all have. I agree with all those. But still, it set me into rant mode. Here’s that address of Paul VI. You might want to read over it before listening to the homily. Perhaps I go into rant mode because Paul VI, a saint, flies right over my head and I just don’t get what he’s on about.
From an address by Saint Paul VI, pope
(Nazareth, January 5, 1964) Nazareth, a model
Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ’s life was like and even to understand his Gospel. Here we can observe and ponder Continue reading
I received a proclamation of “Touché” from the reader who sent in the previous Smart Alec dish towel for the answer I gave in response. Here:
But that admission was just to set me off guard and give me a false sense of confidence, as I was then immediately countered by… this other dish towel above.
There is also an entirely good explanation for the flabbergastery bluster going on here. This has nothing to do with any assertion that you could never find anywhere in the entire world a wise man, much less three of them, and at the same time and place. No.
This is all about there being only three wise men of all the uncountable wise men in all the world who showed up. Only three?!!!? Yes, but there is also an explanation for that. All the other wise men are busy trying to teach all the women folk how to be wise…
[[ I can see that this is not going anywhere good anywhere fast… How do I get out of this?… I haven’t been very wise… ]]
I was at the door of a parishioner’s house last evening, and was very taken by this Christmas scene that had been tacked up there. So joyful. So peaceful. I note that all the animals, including the donkey, have their ears back, listening for any danger that might disturb their Almighty Creator so humbly come among us. The donkey is a professional at this. All donkeys are Guard-Donkeys. Oh, by the way, I was the donkey at the door. If you look closely, you’ll see that there are two donkeys pictured in the picture.
This was sent in to Arise! Hmmm… Let’s take a look at that… [The one who sent this in, BTW, has a great sense of humor, and won’t mind a bit that I’m fisking this dish cloth hanging in front of the stove. What I say, although incisive, will I hope, also bring about a wee laugh.]
- Three Wise Women would have ignored the guiding star instead asking directions to a place they had no idea where it was and so couldn’t ask directions and so would get themselves into trouble, at the least being sold into slavery…
- Three Wise Women, in ignoring the star and so arriving in what they themselves think is on time – they being so wise – would have instead messed up the divine providence of the timing so that Herod would have been successful in killing Jesus with all the boys of Bethlehem two years old and under…
- Three Wise Women would have tried to help the deliver the baby, which, instead of being born in the normal way, had a miraculous birth, much like how Jesus Himself walked right through the closed and locked doors of the Upper Room after the Resurrection, and this would have made them upset, because, you know, they came all that way…
- Because of being upset with the miraculous birth, the three Wise Women would have ignored the moment and purposely busied themselves with the feces of the animals, because that’s the most important thing at the moment. We should call to mind that when Jesus’ good mom appeared to Bernadette in Lourdes, it was in the cave filled with pig-feces, symbolic of what was going on in Lourdes at the time. Mary is used to humble circumstances, and in being in solidarity with us, even standing under the Cross in all the violence, in the … feces of our sins.
- Three Wise Women would have made a casserole, ignoring Hebrew dietary laws but bullying their way along, making everyone sad…
- Three Wise Women wouldn’t realize the most practical thing in the world is to pray, not doing the Martha thing running about in frantic mode, but doing the Mary thing, at the feet of Jesus, in this case listening to His baby cooing.
- Instead of gold for a king as a symbol of His good providence in governance for the poor ones of His little flock, the three Wise Women would have started a much more practical interest-bearing bank account, perhaps with Herod. Who else?
- Instead of frankincense for The Priest as a symbol of how He would offer Himself in sacrifice for us, the Innocent for guilty, and so having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, the three Wise Women would have given him Febreze™ Plug In Scents to suffocate the smells of the cave.
- Instead of Myrrh used for the burial of a corpse – such as Jesus would surely be in speaking the Truth and thus being killed off like any prophet – the three Wise Women would have gifted Him normal spices that they could mix up in the casserole they themselves would eat.
And all this – let us be most clear – NOT because they are women, but because these three individual women would proclaim themselves as being wise (which the three kings never did), ending up, in their lack of wisdom, rejecting the entire economy of salvation to put themselves in front of everyone, drawing attention to themselves, you know, all in the name of Feminism, which brings the peace of a mere lack of war, what with everyone being dead already, instead of the sword of division which Jesus in His perfect wisdom came to bring, a sword of truth which instead brings us to reality, to repentance, to forgiveness, and therefore to love and respect for others, unto truth and the joy of the Holy Spirit, and therefore unto the true peace of Heaven. Jesus is the Prince of the Most Profound Peace. I’ll stick with His ways so far above the ways of any of us who think we are wise. We have all sinned against Him whom we have all pierced. We have all thought ourselves to be wise… So… Jesus is the One. He’s the only One.
Having said all that, I have to say that that dish towel perfectly sums up the Benedictine sisters I had for teachers when I was kid, that is, after 1968 and into the early 1970s. Yikes!
The Christmas blessing Urbi et Orbi (to the City and the World). There’s a plenary indulgence with this, even through, by concession the modern means of social communication.
Happy Merry Christmas!
- I don’t have anything much in common with eOR (an onomatopoeia-esque name, or more precisely, echomimetic), except when he entirely almost honestly tries to be humble, kind of. That’s me, always tempted to be self-congratulatory. eOR, my friend. I pray? No. I flip that first letter up and I just bray. In fact, I make a thing of it, singing my braying as if that were something meritorious:
- Saint Nick, or Santa Claus, or Saint Nicolas, or Sinterklaas, that is, Νίκη-λαός (Conqueror of the People) was a Roman Catholic Bishop in Myra in Asia Minor, modern day Demre, Turkey. The modern day Saint Nick still sports the red vestments of the original saint. The canonized Saint Nicolas lived way back in the days of the early Roman Empire (270-343 A.D.). His feast day on the liturgical calendar is the day he died, December 6. He’s famous for gift giving, and over the centuries was mixed up with the gift-giving wise men at the cave in Bethlehem at the birth of the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace whom they had traveled so far to bow down and offer homage. Then Epiphany, when the wisemen showed up, was confused with Christmas day itself, so that Saint Nick or Santa Claus became the iconic gift giver at Christmas, basically the whole world being Catholic. In these days of absolute idiocy today – some 16 and 17 hundred years later, we would do well to remember what the great saint’s gifts were way back in the day. He rescued three girls from being pimped out by their fathers into prostitution by tossing a little sack of gold coins through their windows so that their proper dowries could be paid. But what I equally like about him is the account of his physically smashing down the horrific heretic of heretics, the priest Arius, during the First Council of Nicaea. Hahaha. That must have been a great show. Hahaha. That’s a great gift to the Church! I love Saint Nicolas the Conqueror of Arius.
- It used to be that Christmas was a time for the joy of giving gifts. Imagine seeing the joy of the girls whose dowry was paid, so that they could marry the love of their lives instead of being smashed down and surely killed off after a short time in the ever violent and hellish world of prostitution. But it’s also not about us “getting something out of it, you know, that fuzzy warm feeling. It’s about real charity, helping someone up out of love of God and neighbor. Here’s the essential of it: We’re not supposed to look to our heroes like Saint Nick for the gifts they give us, but rather for how they give an example which we strive to imitate: love God and neighbor!
- But now it’s all about entitlement in receiving gifts. Hmmm. That ain’t no good. In that case, we end up like eOR above, trying to brag about how good we’ve been and not naughty, conniving to look cute as we go from “I’ve been good” to “better than most” to “not as bad as some.” Doesn’t cut it.
Here’s the deal: Unlike eOR, the saints have it that they themselves are the worst sinners of all, for God loves us also individually and Jesus has stood in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, also individually, so that only I have sinned against Him and therefore only I can be the absolute worst sinner of all before Him. He loves me… and I myself offended Him. When Jesus lays down His life for us, He doesn’t do that because we’ve somehow successfully proven to Him, to society and to ourselves that we’re already wonderful, that we don’t need Him to lay down His life for us so as to have the right in His own justice to save us. He does this because He love us before we have loved Him. When we realize this we are stricken with awe, with love, with thanksgiving, much like the soldier on Calvary who thrust his sword into the side of Jesus, only then saying: “Truly this Man was the Son of God.”
When it comes to Confession, not to Santa Claus but to Jesus in the Confessional, we’re simply just to make a Confession that has four aspects starting with the letter “C”:
- Complete – all mortal sins in kind and number and important circumstance (so that a young man who kills and old man is a grave sin, but that old man is the young man’s father, that’s an important circumstance that needs to be confessed as it involves yet another mortal sin against honoring one’s parents). Thus, an act of impurity is a mortal sin, but it is worse if this is done with another, leading another into sin, and yet still worse if one or both are married (thus adultery), and so on.
- Concise: DON’T give unimportant details. Priests don’t want to hear it. Don’t tell the priest the sins of others. This is a terrible abuse of the sacrament. Priests don’t want to hear it. Don’t tell the priest all your excuses, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Seriously: priests don’t wan’t to hear all this blather. Look, when you go before the judgment of the Lord, you will not be able to give any excuses or blame anyone else for your sin. It’s much better to confess now, honestly, and go to heaven, than to trick the priest now (which you don’t) and then go to hell later.
- Contrite: Be sorry for your sins at least at the level of imperfect contrition, wherein you dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. Try to have perfect contrition, by which your sorry for having offended God’s love for you, for He is worthy of all of our love. We have to have a firm purpose of amendment of life to be truly sorry in whatever way for our sins. We can’t intend to sin again. We have to have hope. We have to desire not to sin again. Confessing is to be done in the past tense: “I blasphemed God five times. I’m sorry to God.” Confessing is not to be done in the present or future tense: “I do blaspheme God and I will continue to do so.” That doesn’t make sense, does it? No. Neither does shacking up with someone, not being repentant of that, but wanting absolution for one’s own feelings so that one can feel holy and self-congratulatory and self-righteous in going to Holy Communion, but only ending up, as Saint Paul says, eating and drinking one’s own condemnation. So: “I resolve to amend my life. Amen.”
- Clear: “I did something bad.” Nope. Just say it. Jesus already knows, but He want’s us to be reconciled to God and neighbor (the priest represents all others through his ordination to Jesus’ Priesthood) at the same time:
- If we love, we love the whole Body of Christ, Jesus the Head of the Body and neighbor the members of the Body. It’s one act of love for the whole Body of Christ. We don’t decapitate Him and say we love God!
- If we sin, we sin against the whole Body of Christ, Jesus the Head of the Body and neighbor the members of the Body. It’s one act of sin, however public or however private, against the whole Body of Christ. We don’t decapitate Him and say we love God because we only sinned against ourselves or our neighbors. It’s the whole Body of Christ that we offend.
- If we are reconciled, we are reconciled with the entire Body of Christ, Jesus the Head and we the members. We say we’re sorry to the whole Body of Christ, through the priest who represents all others and gives us the absolution of Jesus, of God, in the first person singular: “I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son ✚ and of the Holy Spirit.” Just as with love and sin, reconciliation is brought about in one only act for the entire Body of Christ.
And this is what brings one such great joy when one has actually made a good Confession, an integral, honest Confession. We stand forgiven. We’re on our way to heaven. We are filled with great joy. This is the joy of the Holy Spirit who was sent among for the forgiveness of sins. The forgiveness is brought about by the Holy Spirit flooding us with sanctifying grace. There’s no room for the guilt. We are then tabernacles of the Holy Spirit. We bear in our mortal frame the presence of the Most Holy Trinity. We are now eager to live love: “If you love me, keep the commandments” says Jesus to each of us, each of us, also to me, to you. Chaste lives, self-giving lives, honest lives, lives in which Jesus Himself shines out, His goodness, His kindness, His truth.
When we suddenly realize the greatness of the Lord’s majesty, the love and truth behind the wounds also on His risen body, that He will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, we also instantly recognize just how far away we ourselves have been, perhaps enough that we reject the cuteness of eOR above, and actually find ourselves on our knees for a good Christmas Confession.
So… eOR… we might ride eOR to the Confessional, contemplating as we go our rationalizations, but then when we get into the Confessional, much better not to sing like eOR, composing scenarios and operettas, but instead just laying it out our sins, simply, in all humility, before Jesus, with those wounds upon Him, Jesus, ever so good, ever so kind, always the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. Amen.
Both neighbors are firefighters. They talk about a “far” that needs a fightin’. This, however, was sent in by a 25 year vet of the Sheriff’s Department. There is a rivalry between firefighters and law enforcement…